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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

'Christmas' at the College

To the Editor:

Each year, as the Christmas tree takes its place on the Green, I receive expressions of concern from members of the community who wonder if it is appropriate for a religious symbol to be given a place of such prominence at the College. The usual response (not from me, but from others) is that the tree is not a religious symbol, but a cultural, nostalgic or even a commercial symbol. It is even renamed by some well-meaning people as a "holiday tree."

Let us be direct and truthful. It is a Christmas tree. It is placed on the Green in keeping with a tradition (I know not how long-standing) at the College. For many people, it carries no religious meaning at all. For others, it does. Probably more people like having the tree there than dislike it. If there are requests from other traditions to display their festival symbols (e.g., lights on Diwali or a menorah for Hannukah), the display will most likely be welcomed; certainly I believe that it will be allowed.

For me personally, however, this is a difficult issue. Being a Puritan, I believe that such religious symbols belong only in places where their spiritual meaning is acknowledged (that is, churches and homes). But in this, and in so many other ways, my opinion is certainly a minority one.